On Monday, when Alabama Power Company CEO Mark Crosswhite withdrew the company’s membership from the Business Council of Alabama, he was following a pattern long recommended by the 40th President of the United States Ronald Reagan, who famously said, “When you can’t make them see the light, make them feel the heat.”
For over a year, Crosswhite and other prominent business executives worked quietly in the background to restore credibility to the once venerable business organization after its CEO, Billy Canary, took the witness stand in Lee County and discredited himself in defense of then-Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard.
Canary not only prevaricated, he outright denied the sworn testimony of one of his closest associates, who said after Canary’s testimony, “I didn’t know you could lie.” Despite Canary’s efforts to fool the jury, Hubbard was convicted of 12 felony counts of public corruption, and it was finally proven in open court that Canary had colluded with Hubbard’s schemes to use his office to enrich himself.
Canary would likely have been convicted if a second round of indictments had been carried out by the Attorney General’s Special Prosecution Division. He escaped that fate due, in part, to disgraced former Gov. Robert Bentley appointing Steve Marshall to Attorney General. Canary and BCA have been one of Marshall’s biggest donors, giving the former Democrat over $250,000 in campaign contributions.
Crosswhite’s efforts to bring respectability and honest leadership to BCA have been hampered by current Chairman Perry Hand, who is closely associated with former Gov. Bob Riley who used Hubbard as his errand boy to pass legislation favorable to Riley’s lobbying clients.
Rather than heed advice from seven of the state’s most influential businesses, Hand chartered a course that inevitably led to Alabama Power’s departure.
Hand responds to Alabama Power’s exit by first trying to embarrass Crosswhite. He, along with Canary’s input, followed up by having Hubbard and Riley’s former mouthpiece write an internet newsletter column accusing Alabama Power of being a liberal organization that opposed education reform, right-to-work and other silly notions. Perhaps Hand and Canary should look at Alabama Power’s support of the state workforce development training program. But then that would require that they be honest, which is a character quality that both men seem to lack.
Hand’s follow-up letter was the equivalent of a temper tantrum. What a sad sight to see – a grown man cast about kicking and screaming like a spoiled two-year-old.
But Hand has bigger worries as his dealings with Bentley’s Gulf State Park project are part of an ongoing investigation.
BCA has let it be known that it’s financially sound with a year’s worth of operating capital on hand. If after 15 years under Canary’s leadership BCA only has a year’s worth of funding on hand, the organization’s finances have undoubtedly been grossly mismanaged.
Now that Regions Bank and PowerSouth have followed suit, it’s nearing the boiling point.
Hand feels he and Canary have been smeared by Alabama Political Reporter. Like Hubbard, they call facts lies and pretend they are victims. The point is neither Hand or Canary can see their actions for what they really are or acknowledge the writing on the wall. So instead, they must feel the heat.